We are working with local residents around the closed Holloway prison in north London to develop a positive vision for the future of the site.
The project, which will run through to the summer of 2018, is being delivered with the support of Trust for London. It is focused on four key activities over two years:
|1.||Collation and assessment of local data: To create a profile of local needs to inform the development of a Community Plan.|
|2.||Community and user engagement: To enable the voice of local residents and criminal justice service user groups to be heard and contribute their ideas on the future of the prison site.|
|3.||Developing a vision for the site: Publish and promote a Community Plan for Holloway, containing a practical vision for decent and affordable homes for low-income Londoners on the prison site, along with associated community infrastructure.|
|4.||Engaging decision makers.|
Working with the local community
As part of our work, we have launched a website – www.plan4holloway.org – to enable local residents and community groups to access the latest activities, information and news and events. The website is intended to be the first point of reference for anyone with an active interest in the future of the Holloway prison site. It will also contain updates on how people can contribute their ideas and promote a positive vision for Holloway.
HMP Holloway closed in summer 2016 as part of the government's £1.3bn prison building and reform programme. Receipts from prison land sales are intended to be used for the construction of new prisons. HMP Holloway was the only women's prison in London and sits on a large area of public land in Islington, one of the most densely populated boroughs in the capital with some of the highest housing costs.
The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies questions the necessity and logic of spending scarce public resources on new prison builds. Many people in the criminal justice system have histories of homelessness, poverty and mental health problems. Prison budgets and staffing have been cut in recent years and conditions have deteriorated. Instead of new prisons what is required is a radical reduction in prison numbers combined with investment into community facilities, services and housing.
The redevelopment of prison land is an important opportunity to offer a bold and ambitious vision of what can physically replace prison sites – to think creatively and concretely about what could sit in their footprint. It could involve services, facilities, homes, spaces for the community. It may also prove to be a valuable demonstration project for the wider prison closure and building programme.
An alternative strategy – downsize, build and transform
In 2013, we launched the Justice Matters initiative, advocating for a three-fold strategy that we described as ‘downsize’, ‘build’ and ‘transform’ to promote social justice and tackle Britain’s burgeoning criminal justice system.
Informed by the learning from Justice Matters, the Centre believes that the possibility exists in Holloway to develop a community plan. The community plan would seek to demonstrate a perspective that focuses on downsizing the criminal justice system and building social justice alternatives in its place. It could involve building council housing and community facilities for those most in need, and thereby making a contribution to transforming the kind of society in which we all live.
Such a plan would be informed by the wishes and needs of those living in the borough of Islington, people involved in the criminal justice system and in particular those in the most housing need